Sarah Palu

  • Finnish-French musician and composer
  • Expresses herself artisticly with kanteles, folk harp, voice and movement
  • is preparing for her masters at Sibelius-Academy in the near future
  • her music video “Koti merellä – Laulu lähteneelle” (Home at sea – Song for the departed) premiered on Youtube in November 2017 and her debut album will appear in the near future

“I fell in love with the sound of kantele at the age of five and that is still the most important reason why I play the kantele”, says Sarah. “I find fascinating how it has inspired, touched and lifted the spirits of people for over two thousand years.”

Composing has been a part of Sarah’s life since childhood as a way of expressing her emotions and approaching things that are hard to express verbally. Basicly she sees her art as the examination of her existence. She has also composed, arranged and produced music for films, theatre and various installations as well as multiartistic perfomances .

“My last and personally most significant project of the year was “Koti merellä – Laulu lähteneelle”, says Sarah. This composition can be heard in the video directed by Iiris Heikka and will also be on Sarah’s debut album. The music video and the campaign around it have been produced by Eloisatmedia based in Helsinki.

“The piece deals with the loss of someone close and tries to emphasize that sorrow brings all of us together – each of us will lose somebody important to us at some point, and this loss is a natural part of our lives, be it separation, estrangement or death. The video looks at our different ways to deal with sorrow and loss. We wanted to find out what brings comfort, and helps us through it all. We gathered the experiences of people that have gone through these losses for the video. By making this we want to encourage people to support and help each other midst the storms in life, as well as to remember that we also have to take care of our own wellbeing.”

Sarah has also composed for movies. Her music can be heard in both the awardwinning Miles to Go Before I Sleep  –documentary film as well as Katve –horror film.

“I’ve noticed, that forms of art that activate our different senses, such as film, are especially interesting to me. I also think that it is quite natural to try to match the music to the rhythm and emotional levels in films” she says. “There has been a lot to learn on the technical side – how to make my visions happen. I find it fascinating to bring traditional instruments like kantele, harmonium and nyckelharpa into the world of film. I think that the kantele fits into films very well and creates many interesting sounds and effects. For example, in one piece I used the resonance and echo created after I screamed in a room filled with kanteles.”

The film Katve directed by Taneli Suoranta and Hans Barck was nominated in early 2017 for the Best Music Creation award for short films at the Festival International du Film d’Aubagne in France. Sarah told “The nomination was important for me and it was fun to attend and get to meet new people in the trade.”

The possibilities of concert kantele inspired Palu and in her own soon to be released debut album she explores all the possibilities of what can be done with the instrument. “Kantele mixes with piano, voice, harmonium, synthesizer, strings, percussion and ocean waves. Kantele can be heard in instrumentations that are seldom heard if ever before. My music is a mixture of folk, pop, electronic, minimalism and theatrics. You could say that my music has roots in folk music but it breathes in the moment at hand.”

The theme throughout the recording is the letting go of losses and the regeneration that it makes possible. “The album tells of difficult moments in letting go, transitions and moments when there is nothing to fall on, as well as the new beginnings that follow – how the flow of life embraces people and guides them on. Although release, albeit from a personal relationship or an old form of thought, often hurts, without death there is not room for life to branch out in new directions.” Sarah says.


Text: Jenni Venäläinen & Sarah Palu

Translation: Jane Ilmola

Photo: Pietari Purovaara


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